"….Technology is not a panacea or a magic bullet
that suddenly transforms all learning. The effectiveness of educational
technology depends on how it is employed to meet educational goals for
particular kinds of students in specific language learning environments…."
(Oxford and others, 1998: 13)
The main purpose of this resource booklet is to give
Thai university English language teachers a brief overview of the development
of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) and how computers have been
used or can be used for English language teaching (ELT) and learning. Its
focus is on the history of CALL, uses of CALL in English language teaching,
and advantages and limitations of CALL.
The chapter is divided into 5 sections: (1) Definition
of CALL, (2) History of CALL Development, (4) Uses of CALL in English Language
Teaching, (5) Advantages and Limitations of CALL, and (6) Tips in using
CALL. A CALL bibliography (printed materials and online resources), as
a resource for interested ELT teachers, is available at the end of the
Definition of CALL
Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) is defined
as "the search for and study of applications of the computer in language
teaching and learning." (Levy, 1997: 1) The main aim of CALL is to find
ways for using computers for the purpose of teaching and learning the language.
More specifically, CALL is the use of computer technologies that promote
educational learning, including word processing, presentation packages,
guided drill and practice, tutor, simulation, problem solving, games, multimedia
CD-ROM, and internet applications such as e-mail, chat and the World Wide
Web (WWW) for language learning purposes. There are several terms associated
with CALL. CALL is variously known as Computer-Aided Language Learning
(CALL), Computer-Assisted Language Instruction (CALI) and Computer-Enhanced
Language Learning (CELL). The first two terms generally refer to computer
applications in language learning and teaching, while CELL implies using
CALL in a self-access environment (Hoven, 1999).
The reasons why ELT teachers use CALL:
HISTORY OF CALL DEVELOPMENT
This section gives a brief history of CALL development.
The review aims at showing, chronologically, the development of CALL over
the last 30 years by linking to important technological developments, theories
of learning and language teaching approaches. Some key examples of CALL
programs and projects developed in this period are also shown.
Computers can do some of the work of the teacher and
provide great assistance to the learner even without the presence of the
teacher (Pennington and Steven, 1992).
New technologies have seen computers become smaller,
faster, and easier for the teacher to use (Evy, 1997). At present, well-designed
CALL software is readily available to the teacher.
Technologies allow computers to do multimedia applications,
incorporating video, sound, and text, and this capacity allows the learner
to interact with both the program and other learners. (Felix, 1998).
The computer offers great flexibility for class scheduling
and pacing of individual learning, choosing activities and content to suit
individual learning styles. (Oxford and others, 1998)
The computer can provide a meaning-focused, communicative
learning environment, which serves the purposes of communicative language
Warschauer (1996) divides CALL into phases of development
as follows: Behavioristic CALL, Communicative CALL, Integrative CALL (Multimedia
CD-ROM), and Integrative CALL (Internet). The beginning of a new phase
does not necessary mean the end of programs and methods of the previous
phase, rather the old is included within the new (Warschauer, 1996).
The historical development of CALL is summarized
in the following table:
Main-frame and Mini Computers
Approaches to Language Teaching
Approaches to CALL &
1950 - Mathematician and computer pioneer
Alan Turing predicted that one day there would be a machine that could
duplicate human intelligence in every way.
1951- Whirlwind, the first real-time computer
1957- FORTRAN language was developed.
1959-COBOL (Common Business-Orientated
Language) was developed.
1960-Tandy Corporation founded.
1964-DEC Mini Computer was built.
1965-BASIC language was developed.
1967-Development on PASCAL
1968-LOGO language was developed.
1970-Development of UNIX operating system.
1971-First Microprocessor-4004 was invented.
1972-C language was developed.
1972-8008 Processor was released by Intel.
1972-The first international connections
to ARPANET are established. ARPANET became the basis for the internet.
1974-Introduction of 8080. An 8 Bit Microprocessor
1975-Formation of Microsoft by Bill Gates
and Paul Allen.
1976-Apple Computer, Inc. founded, releasing
the Apple II, first mass-market of PC.
1979-Introduction of 8088 processor.
1979-Compact disk was invented.
Principles of Language Learning:
Focus on stimulus, response, reinforcement.
Language learning is a process of habit-formation.
Focus on drill and practice.
Learn through imitation and repetition.
Give immediate feedback.
Individualized instruction was included
to serve the pace of the learner.
(eg. PLATO project:
Aims at providing interactive, self-paced learning using mainframe
Main characteristics of behavioristic CALL:
Based on behaviorist theory of learning.
Focus on receptive drills.
Mainly drill and practice type software.
Computer as tutor.
Criticism of Behavioristic CALL: The Behaviorism and Audiolingualism
were rejected theoretically and pedagogically by theorists and practitioners.
Learning activities promote language accuracy rather than fluency.
Designed to be implemented on mainframe and mini computers.
Personal Computers (PC) (1980s)
Approaches to Language Teaching
Approaches to CALL &
The development of word processing such
1980-Development of MS-DOS/PC-DOS began
1981-The first WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menus
and Pointing Devices) by The Xerox Palo Alto Research Lab.
1982-The TCP/IP Protocol established,
and the "Internet" is formed.
1982-80286 processor was released.
Compaq released their IBM PC compatible
1983-MS-DOS 2.0 was released.
Hewlett-Packard released LaserJet printer
AT was released.
Apple Macintosh was released.
1984- MS-DOS 3.0 was released.
80386 DX was released.
1985- Microsoft Windows was launched.
1985- EGA was released.
1985 - 80386 DX was released
VGA was released
1988 - MS-DOS 4.
Communicative Language Teaching
Principles of Language Learning:
Encourage students to produce language rather than manipulate the language,
Learning is process of discovery, expression, and development.
Focus on functions of the language.
Emphasise on language use rather than usage.
Contextualization is important.
Communicative competence is the desired goal.
Focus on using language forms rather than forms themselves.
Teach grammar implicitly.
Serious educational applications appeared.
A boom of CALL due to the introduction of Personal Computer
View that drill and practice exercises did not yield enough genuine
Focus on using the language in context.
Non-Drill Practice format Type
Criticism of Communicative CALL: Computers were not fully well integrated
into the curriculum. The greater contribution is on marginal rather than
the central educational elements.
Integrative CALL: multimedia CD-ROM
Multimedia CD-ROM (1980s-1990s)
Approaches to Language Teaching
Approaches to CALL &
1982 Audio CDs was introduced
1982 Book on Audio CDs was introduced
by Sony and Phillips--beginning of the Compact Disk
1982 MIDI, Musical Instrument Digital
Interface was introduced.
CD-ROM, invented by Phillips, produced
1989 CD-I released by Phillips and Sony.
1989 Release of Sound Blaster Card, by
1990 Introduction of Windows 3.0 by Bill
Gates & Microsoft.
1990 - MPC (Multimedia PC) was introduced.
1991 - 80486 DX was released. A sound
card and triple speed CD-ROM were added.
1992 Introduction of CD-I launched by
1993 Pentium released
1993 a CD-ROM drive capable of 300KB/sec
(double speed) was introduced.
Focus on Communicative Language Teaching:
Focus on meaning.
Use of authentic, meaningful and contextualized materials.
Fluency in language is a primary goal.
Focus on interactive language learning.
Consider learners’ factors such as age, interest, learning styles, motivation.
Tasks relevant to students’ real life interests and experiences (Felix,
Shift away from language usage to language use (Felix, 1998)
The teacher became a facilitator rather than the person who gives out
CALL:Multimedia CD- ROM
(eg.Toolbook, Authorware, Planet English, Real English, Wiser Educator)
Use advantages of multimedia CD-ROM in teaching language for communicative
Allow computer to incorporate a variety of media (text, graphics, sound,
animation, and video) by Hypermedia.
Emerge of friendly-user, powerful authoring software such as ToolBook,
Authorware, and Director.
Based on communicative language teaching approach
Built on student's intrinsic motivation
Foster the interactivity between the learner and the learner, and learner
Multimedia resources are linked together.
Learners can navigate their own path and set their own pace by pointing
and clicking mouse.
More authentic language learning environment is created.
The four language skills are integrated.
Focus on content and language skills.
Allow learners to link to a variety of sources such as grammatical explanations,
glossaries, pronunciation, exercises, etc.
Integrative CALL: internet applications
Approaches to Language Teaching
Approaches to CALL &
1969-Computer-mediated communication (CMC)
but serious applications appeared in early 1990s.
1960s-Hypertext was invented by Ted Nelson.
1989- World Wide Web--the integration
of hypertext and the Internet- was invented by Tim Berners-Lee.
1990- Internet applications became popular
such as E-mail, FTP, Talk (UNIX system)
1992- Gopher was released.
The release of CERN (WWW), a hypertext
based system for finding and accessing internet resources.
1993- Mosaic (Web browser) was released.)
1994- Netscape 1.0 was released.
1995- Windows '95 was launched with Internet
Explorer by Bill Gates & Microsoft.
1998 – Windows’98 was released.
1995-1999 - Development of:
Emerge of web authoring software such
as Hot Potatoes, Authorware, and Director.
Focus on using the internet applications
for communicative language teaching:
Foreign language learning will be an acquisition
of language content through purposeful and reflective participation.
The curriculum is dynamic.
The role of the teacher is a facilitator,
an inseminator of ideas, who draws student’s motivation.
The learner is responsible, reflective
Textbook is a resource along with electronic
Classroom becomes a reconfigurable space
with electronic facilities.
CALL: Internet Applications
(eg. E-mail communication, FTP, World Wide Web, Chat, Gopher sites,
MOO servers, CU-SeeMe, Desktop Video Conferencing)
Aim at integrating computer-mediated communication applications for
communicative language teaching as follows:
Allow learners to have direct communication around the globe.
Allow learners and teachers to download documents, graphics, sounds,
videos, and animation.
Learners search and share different kinds of files on the internet (documents,
graphics, sounds, video, animation).
Allow learners to have real time communication.
Allow computer to incorporate a variety of media from the internet such
as text, graphics, sound, animation, and video.
Internet resources are linked together by Hypermedia.
Based on communicative. language teaching approach.
Built on student's intrinsic motivation for authentic communication.
Encourage interactivity between the learner and internet users around
More authentic language learning environments are created.
The four language skills are integrated (listening, speaking, reading,
Focus on a variety of content and multi-cultures.
USES OF CALL IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING
This section gives a brief overview of how CALL has
been used or can be used for the purpose of language learning and teaching.
The use of CALL can be divided as follows: (1) Computer as Drill and Practice,
(2) Computer as Tutor (3) Computer as Simulation / Problem Solving, (4)
Computer as Game, (5) Computer as Tool for ELT teachers and learners, and
(6) Applications of Internet for ELT.
Computer as drill and practice
In this use of CALL, computers are viewed as a tool
for saving time with the immediate feedback. The learning principles behind
Drill and Practice is the Behaviorism Learning Theory and the Audiolingual
approach language to teaching. The main aim of Drill and Practice is to
review the content / background knowledge, and to assist the learners to
master separate language skills (such as reading, listening, etc.)
Drill and practice consists of three steps: Providing
stimulus; Receiving active response from the learner; and Giving immediate
There are several types of drill and practice activities
(exercises) such as Paired Associate (Matching); Sentence Completion; Multiple
Choice; Part Identification; True-False; and Short-Answer questions.
Well-designed Drill and Practice programs can record
the learner’s progress and scores and the time a student spends on each
exercise. Some programs add timing features to help the learner to control
their speed while practicing. Drill and practice CALL programs in the early
years focused on practicing language skills and components separately (such
as vocabulary, grammar (such as irregular verbs, past tense, articles),
reading, and translation. A lot of drill and practice exercises were produced
by classroom teachers. There are several limitations of Drill and Practice
exercises such as the lack of interaction and content materials which are
not authentic, meaningful, and contextualized (Felix, 1998). As a result,
the receptive language drill and practice programs of the 1960s –1970s
did not produce enough authentic communication for the learners.
Another type of Drill and Practice is so called "contextualized
activities" such as gap filling, reconstructing texts, etc. Examples of
these programs are those developed in early 1980s such as Cloze exercises,
Text reconstruction, and Eclipse (by Higgins), etc.
A key authoring program used to generate text reconstruction is Storyboard,
written by John Higgins (Levy, 1997).
Computer as tutor
The role of the computer as tutor is to present to
the learners the content of the lesson as text graphics, video, animation,
or slides, including learning activities, drills and practice. The computer
serves as a means for delivering instructional materials.
The program consists of the following stages: Introduction
stage (stating aims, background knowledge), Presentation of the content,
exercises and/or testing; and Giving the feedback.
Examples of CALL tutorial programs are:
Grammar : Longman Grammar Software; Grammar Expert
Plus; Tense Buster (Clarity Software); Grammar Mastery (ALA); Grammar Rom
(Addison Wesley Longman); Grammar 3D: Contextualized Practice for Learners
of English (Heinle & Heinle).
Reading : Read It! Study Skills (Clarity
Language Consultants) (EAP reading); RocketReader (1998) (a speed reading
program); ReadFlex (Speed Reading); Reading for English (Athelstan) (Reading
Comprehension); SEEN: Tutorials for Critical Reading (KenCD Software) (tutorials
designed to develop analytical thinking and critical reading skills); Accelerated
Reader (Advantage Learning Systems).
Writing : Paragraph Punch (a writing tutor for
effective paragraph); WriteExpress Easy Letters (effective business letters);
Power Editing (an interactive tutorial on how to edit and revise sentences);
Report Writer for Science and Engineering Reports (Clarity Language Consultants)
(EFL/ESL report science and engineer writing).
Computer used for simulation / problem solving
Speaking, Pronunciation & Listening: Learn
to Speak (The Learning Company); English Pronunciation (1997-98)
(Okanagan University College); Dragon, Naturally Speaking (A voice
recognition program); See It, Hear It, Say It! (Courseware Publishing
International); Accent Improvement (SpeakWare); Real English
Integrated Skills / Courseware: Ellis
(CALI), Dynamic English (DynEd); English Discoveries (Berlitz);
English Language Development (Jostens); Rosetta Stone (Fairfield
Language Technologies); Planet English (Unisearch Ltd and
the University of New South Wales); Issues in English (Protea Software);
Active English (Courseware Publishing International).
Simulations and problem solving is used to foster
analysis, critical thinking, discussion and writing activities. The computer
is not used much for tutorial purposes. The program is designed to create
language interaction through problematic situations, conditions or problems
challenging for the learner to solve. Many simulation programs are problem
solving games, which are entertaining and educational ("edutainment").
Oregon Trail (1995-1998) (CD-ROM)<http://www.cd-romlink.com>
is one of the earliest educational simulation problem solving games. The
learners are challenged to make a series of decisions to guide their party
from Missouri to Oregon by covered wagon. These decisions begin with choosing
a departure date, through the daily decisions relating to pace, restocking
and direction. The learners face a series of obstacles: fires, floods,
injuries, no water, bad water, no grass, food spoilage, etc. The learners
have to make life-or-death decisions. Though Oregon Trail is not directly
designed for ELT classes, the teacher can create learning activities in
both receptive and productive skills.
Other educational simulation problem solving
games are Carmen Sandiego, A Day in the Life (1995), and Carmen
Sandiego Word Detective (1999), which helps learners to master
essential language skills, Amazon Trail II (The Learning Company)
which is a simulation of a trip up the Amazon River.
Computer as game
The main principle behind computer gaming is that
"Learning is Fun." The main aim is to create a pleasurable learning environment
, and to motivate the language learner. However, good educational games
should have clear educational objectives.
CALL games and simulation games are similar in that
both are designed to motivate students to learn through entertainment.
However, they are different in certain ways. Simulation games always use
simulations (real life situations) in the presentation of a game, while
CALL games focus on providing fun, but challenging environment to the learner.
Though CALL games have clear learning objectives, they are different from
Tutorials and Drill and Practice. The main function of CALL games is not
so much to present the language content as tutorials do but to provide
entertainment to the learner.
Examples of CALL vocabulary games are Spelling
Games, Spelling Bee and Magic Hat, Scrambled Word, Word
Worm, Hangman, Word Order, Find a Word, Word
Puzzles, Spelling Buddy, Cross Words, I Love Spelling
(DK multimedia), Scrabble Deluxe (Virgin Games) (Computerized version
of the board game), etc.
Computer as tool for teachers and learners
The most common tool used by teachers and learners in CALL is probably
word processors. Word Processors are tools for creating documents for making
handouts, sheets, desktop publishing, letters, and flyers for language
teaching and learning. There is a variety of word processors available,
ranging from high quality programs such as Microsoft Word <http://www.microsoft.com>,
Corel Word Perfect <http://www.corel.com > to simpler
and cheaper programs such as Microsoft Works<http:www.microsoft.com>,
and Claris Works <http://www.apple.com/appleworks>. Teachers
can choose ones suitable for their students.
Spelling checkers are tools for ELT teachers and learners for conducting
spelling check. Most high quality word processing programs such as Microsoft
Word, Word Perfect have built in spelling checkers. However,
there are separate spelling checking programs available such as Spell
it Deluxe (1997) <http://www.davd.com>, or Sentry Spelling-Checker
ELT teachers can use grammar checker programs to check and point
out grammatical problems in writing. Like spelling checkers, grammar checkers
can be a separate program such as Grammatik or built-in programs
such as the Grammar Check in Microsoft Word. However, these grammar
checkers still have limited abilities and are intended for native speakers.
So they are not recommended for ESL/EFL learners since they may be confusing.
Teachers and learners can use concordancing software to search in
huge databases to find all the uses of particular words. It might be confusing
for ESL/EFL beginners. The best Concordancer for ELT teachers and students
is Oxford MicroConcord . The software includes a total of about
1,000,000 words from British newspapers.
Collaborative writing is software that helps the learner to write
collaboratively on computers, which are linked in a local area network.
Daedalus Integrated Writing Environment is the most popular one. This
software includes real-time discussion, word processing, electronic mail,
brainstorming, and a dictionary.
At present many CD versions of encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauruses,
maps and other references are available to the teachers and learners. Popular
reference CD-ROM programs are Microsoft Encarta 99 < http://www.iac-on-encarta.com/>,
Longman Dictionary of American English, Oxford Picture Dictionary
CD-ROM (1997) <http://www.oup-usa.org>and BookShelf <http://www.Microsoft.com>.
Microsoft Encarta Interactive World Atlas 2000 <Http//www.microsoft.com>
Roget 's thesaurus.com <http://www.thesaurus.com/>, WordWeb,
(a thesaurus /dictionary), Collins On-Line Dictionaries, American
Heritage Dictionary (Softkey); Longman Multimedia Dictionary,
Grammar Reference (US English grammar usage), American Heritage
Talking Dictionary (The Learning Company). Please note that entries
in many of these programs may be biased towards the country of origin.
Generally, ELT teachers use commercially available CALL software. However,
much software does not meet the demand of the learners or does not suit
the learning objectives. Teachers need to adapt or create their own materials
from scratch. In this case, the teacher has to become an author, or a teacher-programmer
(Levy, 1997). The authoring software allows teachers to select appropriate
content and learning activities according to their students’ needs. There
is a variety of authoring software ranging from pre-scripted authoring
programs such as Authorware (Macromedia), Toolbook (Asymetrix
Corporation), etc. which requires the user to write scripts, to customized
template authoring programs and allow the teacher to create customized
teaching activities and exercises such as Storyboard, Clozemaker,
ChoiceMaster, GapMaster in Wida’s Authoring Suite, Wiser
Educator, Author Plus (Clarity Language Consultants), Authorware
Computers can be connected to the internet and can
incorporate interactive multimedia: text, graphics, audio, video, and animation.
It can be said that the explosive growth of the internet has given new
life to interactive media and CALL.
To access text, graphics, audio, video, and animation
published on the internet, the teacher and learner need to use "Web browser"
software, a computer based graphical program that allows users to search
and explore information on the internet. Common Web browsers are Netscape
Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer. It is expected that
the internet will become one of the most popular mediums for CALL because
it allows for world-wide distance education.
The use of the internet is easy. The user usually
interacts just by clicking the mouse. Easy navigation is an advantage of
using the internet in linking to different sites around the world.
The followings are internet applications that ELT
teachers can use for language teaching.
Electronic mail (E-mail)
Computer-mediated communication makes it easy
for ELT learners to have direct authentic communication with the teacher,
other learners or interested people around the world by using e-mail. E-mail
is an excellent method for teaching interactive writing. One of its advantages
is that it provides interaction with native speakers through pen-pal correspondence.
E-mail writing is considered to be more personal and meaningful than classroom
writing activities. (Felix, 1998). A problem concerning interaction through
E-mail is that the communication does not take place at the same time (asynchronous).
There is a variety of e-mail programs that can recommended
for the learner. The most popular program on the Unix platform is Pine
of Washington University <http://gpu.srv.ualberta.ca/HELP/mail/pine1.html>.
Eudora <http://www.eudora.com> and Netscape Mail <http://www.netscape.com>
are easy to use. However Pine and Eudora require direct conection
to the internet through the server in which the user is a member. If the
user wants to access to e-mail anywhere and anyplace in the world, he/she
can apply for free web-based e-mail services such as Hotmail.com
Mail.com <http://www.mail.com>, AltaVista.com <http://www.AltaVista.com>,
File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a facility for
transferring files over the internet. The original FTP was available on
the UNIX system. But now FTP is also available on the web, and it is becoming
more user-friendly than the one operating on the UNIX system.
When the user connects to a remote computer with
FTP, he/she is communicating between the two machines: one local and one
remote. Once you connect to the remote computer with FTP, you can do several
jobs concerning files such as sending local files (text and binary--images,
and sound) to the remote site, retrieving files from the remote site, changing
directories, naming and deleting files both on the local and remote sites.
ELT teachers can use FTP to download or updownload
files such as software programs, texts, images, sounds, videos. A lot of
FTP sites are vailable on the internet at several servers such as the FTP
server at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign < ftp://ftp.ncsa.uiuc.edu/
>Washington University at St. Louis < ftp://wuarchive.wustl.edu/ >,
FTP server at Monash University <ftp://ftp.monash.edu.au>.
World Wide Web (WWW)
Computer networks have allowed to conect to information around the world,
and share millions of documents—texts, graphics, sounds, and video via
hypertext keywords or links. WWW or the web now has absorbed many of the
above services. For example, the web can now do e-mail, ftp, chat and voice
chat, desktop conferencing, and MOOs (Multiple-user-domains Object Oriented),
which allows for real time communication.
The WWW provides a rich resource of "authentic materials" for langauge
teaching and learning. Using web browsers such as Netscape <http://www.netscape.com>
and Internet Explorer <http://www.microsoft.com/>, the WWW yields
good (and bad!) resources for the teacher and the learner. Learners can
find information which suits their own interests and fields of study.
The teacher and learner can search for the following materials on
Texts can be downloaded, saved as .html or .text files, and printed
and kept as worksheets. Teacher can download suitable texts and put them
on the school’s website for further reading assignments or doing English
exercises such as grammar, vocabulary, etc. There is a wealth of texts
on a variety of topics on the WWW that the teacher and the learner can
choose to serve their own interest. You can find texts in almost any field
on the WWW. However, there are some limitations on using text files on
the WWW. Many web sites consis of poor written texts with grammar and spelling
mistakes or poor writing style. The teacher must be selective in choosing
text files for ELT learners. A good website is CNN News Room <http://lc.byuh.edu/cnn_n/cnn-n_page.html>.
The student will learn both news and do some language exercises such as
vocabulary, grammar, reading, etc.
One of the most important aspects of MOOs (Multiple-user-domains Object
Oriented or Multi-User Object Oriented systems) is communication (verbal,
nonverbal, expressing feelings) with people connected to the MOO from all
around the world. MOOs evolved from MUDs (Multi-User Domains). MOOs allows
for real time communication, simulation, and role play among users. The
users can build their own new "rooms" and write the description, to determine
who could come in and out. The user can even create their own virtual home.
Pictures can be very useful in language teaching and learning.
Pictures can convey meaning and stimulate language. By using a web browser,
teachers can download, save and print pictures and keep them as a resource
for language teaching. There is a variety of pictures on the web. Many
pictures are copyright free for educational use. AltaVista <http:www.altavista.com>is
a good search engine for seaching pictures on the internet.
A lot of web sites provide audio clips that the user can download
and store for use in langauge teaching and learning. With advanced technologies
such as the RealAudio program <http://www.real.com>, the
teacher can download "live" audio files such as news, short stories, songs
for use in class and self access center or for individual listening at
home. Web sites that provide audio files are such as CNN News<http://www.cnn.com>,
BBC English <http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice>, etc.
The WWW is also a rich resource for Video files (viedo films,
video clips, digital movies). To view video files, there is a need for
video and movie viewing programs such as RealVideo<http://www.real.com>,
QuickTime Movie<http://www.apple.com/quicktime/>, which can be
downloaded from the internet. Useful videos and movies that can be downloaded
and saved are: previews of video films, movies, conversations or dialogues
among people, news, speeches, and documentary films. Teachers can use videos
and movies with other medias, such as textbooks, pictures, handouts, or
audio materials. However, there are some technical limitations with downloading
video materials. Video clips, which are usually short, are easy to download
and manipulate. However, long videos and movies, which need a lot of computer
RAM and disk spaces, always cause problems. The computer must be powerful
and must have a fast internet connection.
Chat & Voice Chat
Computer-mediated communication allows users to exchange real
time instant messages (no time delay as in e-mail). The application of
this capacity are chat programs that allow users to connect to remote sites
to send and receive instant written messages. "Talk" is an original version
of chat on the UNIX system. Web-based chat is easier to use than the UNIX
system "talk". Examples of chat programs on the web are: ICQ <
http://wwp.icq.com/>, IRC (Internet Relay Chat) < http://www.ircnet.org/>,
Yahoo <http://www.yahoo.com>. With the progress in real time
audio technologies, voice chat is becoming available (e.g. Yahoo Voice
Chat <http://chat.yahoo.com>). Voice chat allows users to exchange real
time-instant digital voice messages with users in remote sites.
Chat provides a strong motivation for interactive and communicative
use of language. ELT teachers can use chat sessions as a means for meaningful
authentic communication with the real audience. The learner can join several
chat groups according to his/her own interest.
Recently a lot of special MOOs have been set up for ESL learners
to participate such as CU-SEEMe <http://www.cuseeme.com>. In using MOOs
special client software programs such as TinyFugue (for Unix, MUDDweller
(for Mac), or MUDwin (for Windows) are needed.
MOOs provide a strongly motivated means for meaningful authentic
communication with a real audience. Those who are interested in this desk-top
teleconferencing can join MOOs on many websites such as the CU-SeeMe
Website <http://www.cu.seeme.com>, and at Rachel's Super MOO
ADVANTAGES AND LIMITATIONS OF CALL
While Section 3 above shows some of the benefits
of how CALL can be used for language teaching and learning, CALL also has
some limitations. This section reviews advantages and limitations of CALL.
Advantages of CALL
CALL can adapt to the learners' abilities and preferences.
Motivation and Attitudes
CALL can adapt to the learners’ cognitive and learning styles.
CALL can adapt to the learner’s self-paced learning. CALL can be used
for remedial work for slow learners and to accelerate learning for fast
CALL offers individualized and private learning.
CALL, with branching capability, provides choices and paths for learning,
allowing learners to work independently.
CALL allows learners to control their own learning process and progress.
CALL provides strong motivation for learning. Students will often do
on a computer what they are reluctant to do in a textbook or paper-pencil.
Some CALL features such as graphics, sounds, animation, video, audio
are interesting and motivating for many learners.
CALL can improve learners’ attitudes towards learning English.
Feedback and Progress Record
CALL (internet) provides authentic communication that motivates students
to use language outside language classroom.
Teacher’s Roles and the Relationship with the Learner
CALL can provide immediate responsiveness and feedback.
CALL provides accurate records of the learner’s performance and progress.
CALL can change the relationship between teacher and student.
The teacher becomes a facilitator rather than a person who controls
the learning environment.
CALL is predictable and non-judgemental.
CALL provides opportunities for mastery-learning language skills.
CALL can lower the amount of time required to master some materials.
CALL (e.g.simulation games) encourages learners to work cooperatively
in problem solving.
CALL allows learners to learn cooperatively as a result of working together
(such as group works, and discussion.)
CALL (e.g. games and puzzles) create information gaps which provide
learners a need to communicate or interact with each other or with the
Access to Information and Cultures
CALL (e.g. e-mail, chat, moos) promote direct communicative skills for
CALL (e.g. e-mail, chat, moos) provides authentic, real communication
with native speakers of English outside the classroom.
CALL (e.g. CD-ROM and the internet) can increase access to information
to the learners.
CALL (CD-ROM and the internet) allow learners to acess to cultures around
CALL is a neutral medium. Compared to teachers, computers do not lose
patience, get angry, or play favourites as some teachers do. This creates
a safe learning environment.
CALL can provide an active and positive learning environment.
Integration of a variety of multimedia such as texts, graphics, sound,
animation, and video, allowing for creating authentic meaningful language
Limitations of CALL
CALL (the internet) has no limitations regarding different time zones
Schools may lack funds for CALL implementations. Some CALL hardware
and software are very expensive. It is problematic in schools that have
The design of good CALL software needs expensive equipment and cooperative
Teacher's Attitudes and Anxiety
Not all students can access CALL (e.g. the internet). In many developing
countries, there is a problem of "have" and "have not" internet between
the rich and the poor.
ELT teachers may have negative attitudes towards CALL.
There is fear that CALL might replace teachers.
Many ELT teachers are anxious about CALL because they have limited skills
and experience in CALL theory and delivery.
There is fear that the computer might isolate students from social activities.
Hardware, Compatability, and Technical Support
A lot of ELT teachers still lack training and skills in using the CALL,
and training costs are high.
Training learners to use computers takes students’ time away from other
ELT teachers may lack the necessary computer-related skills.
Computer hardware is difficult to install and maintain for classroom
Spontaneous language production (e.g. speaking) is still limited by
the hardware capabilities such as voice-recognition and voice recording.
Graphics and sounds provided on the computer are sometimes unrealistic
CALL presentation is sometimes restricted by the capabilities of the
hardware (e.g. not enough RAM to run big CD-ROM programs).
Disk space is still problematic for storing large multimedia files.
CALL (e.g. CD-ROMs) are sometimes not suitable for all computers, platforms
Web pages appear differently on different computer platforms (e.g. Windows,
Mac). It sometimes makes students confused.
There are many poor CALL software programs due to the lack of programmers
with linguistic knowledge, language teaching approaches, and experiences.
A lot of CALL software (e.g. Drill and Practice type) focus on teaching
separate, discrete language skills and component, ignoring discourse, contexts,
Some CALL (e.g. the internet) does not support face to face communication
(e.g. E-mail, chat) well, though some present technologies can provide
sounds and pictures during communication there are some limitations with
speed, sound and picture quality.
A lot of CALL activities (e.g. Behavioristic CALL) are limited to certain
types of exercises such as multiple choices, true false, matching, ignoring
There are a lot of web pages of poor quality. There is a lot of junk
on the internet. Teachers need to evaluate internet web pages with great
care before downloading or assigning the students to access them.
At present CALL software still lacks ability of abstract reasoning and
Accessing and Searching CALL
CALL (e.g. the Internet) is not yet fast enough. Access to audio, video
and graphic files is usually slow.
Feedback and Evaluation
Searching on CALL (e.g. the internet) is not always easy. It is common
to get lost on the Internet since it is non-linear.
Searching on the Internet takes time due to lack of effective search
engines on the web. Many users end up with no information after searching
for many hours.
Access to the internet is not so easy. Sometimes the lines are busy
due to over use.
In some areas it takes time to access the internet via modem, and the
users are frustrated due to some limitations of telephone lines.
TIPS IN USING CALL
Feedback is still limited. It has to rely a lot on the teacher’s input.
Feedback on quizzes (e.g. on the internet) is sometimes slow.
Evaluation and exams on the net is still difficult. It may cause some
in convenience and students might cheat since it is not closely supervised
(compared to conventional tests using paper and pencil).
The following are tips for ELT teachers in using
Use CALL to serve educational purposes. Teachers should
not jump in the bandwagon just because other people do. Many teachers use
CALL because it is a new technology (like the language lab used to be about
30 years ago) without considering whether it serve or gives true value
to educational objectives.
Do not isolate CALL from the rest of the curriculum.
Try to integrate CALL with other subjects or disciplines in the curriculum.
Using CALL across the curriculum will make it more integrative.
Consider CALL as one of many learning resources. Teachers
should try to incorporate other learning resources and materials such as
books, magazines, video, audio tape, with their teaching.
Choosing appropriate CALL software for the learner,
such as age, need, and interest is important. Software evaluation guides
are important tools for the teachers in choosing suitable software.
Using CALL is not the end in itself. Follow-up activities
are also important. A lot of lessons end when CALL finishes in class. In
fact, follow up activities such as group discussion, writing assignments,
searching for more data from other learning sources e.g. interviews, and
surveys are also important.
Do not expect that all students in class would enjoy
working on the computer. A lot of students prefer human interaction (such
as student – teacher or student – student ) than with the computer. Teachers
should provide alternative activities for those students who prefer traditional
Do not expect that all students can work easily with
the computer. Many students take much longer to learn certain skills such
as using the keyboard, the mouse, etc., while other students pick up these
skills easily. Teachers must be patient and willing to help the slow groups.
Try to incorporate a variety of activities on CALL such
as desktop publishing (e.g. word processing), e-mail correspondence, web
publishing (e.g. home pages, newspapers), chats and moos, and web based
Do not expect that teaching with computers would be
easy for all teachers. It can be exhausting or may require a lot of preparation
such as setting up the computer lab, preparing suitable software and materials
(printed and online), including follow up activities. Team work seems to
be the best solution for implementing CALL in school.
CALL has important potential for English language
teaching. If used properly with clear educational objectives, CALL can
interest and motivate learners of English. CALL can increase information
access to the learner, provide flexibility to instruction and thereby better
serve the individual's learning pace, cognitive style and learning strategies.
CALL allows learners to control their own learning process and progress.
Using effective and suitable software applications, CALL can provide communicative
meaningful language learning environments. Good quality and well-designed
CALL software can offer a balance of controlled practice and free communicative
expression to the learners, including immediate feedback. In the future,
with the advance of computer technologies, it is expected that CALL will
be able to absorb some teaching functions. However, despite greater user-friendliness,
and effectiveness, CALL will never replace the teacher. Like other new
technologies, CALL is not a magic solution to language teaching. The effectiveness
of CALL relies on how CALL is utilized to meet language learning goals
for individualized learners in specific educational settings.